Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Middle East Wars?

As the Israeli military bombs Palestinians in Gaza the age old mantra, "Ya, but those people have been fighting for centuries," has been heard around coffee shops, bars, and water coolers in the United States.

That is the perception. What is the reality?

Here is a list of the uses of United States federal troops, and their precusors:

  • 1637 Pequot War
  • 1675-1676 King Phillip's War
  • 1680-1692 Pueblo Revolt
  • 1689-1763 French and Indian War
  • 1763 Pontiac War
  • 1770 Boston Massacre
  • 1774 Lord Dunsmores' War
  • 1775-1783 American Revolution
  • 1775-1832 Midwestern Conflicts
  • 1794 Whiskey Rebellion
  • 1801-1805 Tripoli and Barbary States
  • 1812-1814 War of 1812
  • 1813-1842 South Indian Wars
  • 1846-1848 Mexican-American War
  • 1854-1890 Sioux Wars
  • 1860-1877 South Indian Wars (again)
  • 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War
  • 1872-1873 Modoc (Indian) Wars
  • 1877 Nez Perce War
  • 1846-1864 Navajo
  • 1861-1890 Apache
  • 1898 Spanish-American War
  • 1898-1902 Philippine Insurgency
  • 1912-1915 Nicaragua
  • 1915 Haiti
  • 1916 Pershing's Mexican Campaign
  • 1917-1918 World War I (U.S.)
  • 1941-1945 World War II (U.S.)
  • 1950-1953 Korean War (technically continues 56 years later)
  • 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis
  • 1965 Dominican Republic
  • 1965-1973 Vietnam War (U.S. involved to a limited degree before 1954 until 1965)
  • 1967 Detroit Riots
  • 1968 Pueblo Incident
  • 1975 Mayaguez Incident
  • 1980-1989 Arming and training Afghan mujahideen
  • 1983 Grenada
  • 1983-1984 Mining Nicaraguan Harbors (also Iran-Contra Affair)
  • 1986 Libya
  • 1989 Libya
  • 1989 Panama
  • 1991 Gulf War
  • 1992 Somalia
  • 1994 Haiti
  • 2001-2009 Afghanistan
  • 2003-2009 Iraq
What is the reality? From the time Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock until today, the United States has been involved in more wars than the countries of the Middle East.

The wars conducted over the same period in the Middle East could be further reduced when wars initiated, both directly and indirectly, by European nations and the U.S. are taken from the equation.

I have mentioned this point at bars before. The typical answer is, "What have we done to the Palestinians?" The answer is easy. We have armed first one side--Israel, and then several sides, Israel and Egypt for example. Today, Israel and Egypt are the number one and number two recipients of U.S. military aid.

University of Montana Arabic language professor Samir Bitar was a child in Palestine during the 1967 Six-Day War. A U.S. made howitzer shell went through the wall of his family's home during that conflict. When Bitar talks of that day, I see something in his eyes that I haven't seen in the eyes of any one else. Bitar is two years older than I am. (I am 49) I can only imagine what I would think of Israel and the United States if I had had an artillery round go through my house when I was 9 years old.

Each of us in the United States is an enabler. We are no different than a relative "helping" an alcoholic or drug addict.

Going back to one of the themes of this blog, William Graham Sumner's Person A and Person B, we (the United States--each of us) are worse than person A or B. We are an enabler for Persons A and B. While Persons A and B (in this case Israel) wish person C (Palestinians) to do something ( I won't venture there today), we assist. With our perception that "those people have been fighting for centuries," and our enabling, the Palestinians become Person D, the "forgotten man."

As this is written the death toll if 400+ Palestinians dead (mostly civilians) and less than ten dead Israelis. Five of the Israelis are soldiers that were killed by a friendly fire incident yesterday.

Those figures bring back memories of the Pequot War. When one Pequot was accused of murdering a settler in today's Rhode Island, the settlers burned alive 600-700 Pequot Indians. More were sold into slavery in Bermuda. Not only are the numbers similar, but Puritans praised the massacre in the name of God. How things stay the same.

"What experience and history teach is this--that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it."
G.W.F. Hegel


Janessa Gans said...

Really interesting post, Dennis! Thanks for sharing. Prof. Samir Bitar sounds like an excellent resource and someone with important stories to share.

Dennis A Carroll said...

Thank you for the comment Janessa.

Bitar has a few stories, that is true.